Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy Birthday to Robert Plant, CBE (born 20 August 1948)

Robert Anthony Plant, CBE, has influenced the style of many of his contemporaries, including Geddy Lee, Ann Wilson, Sammy Hagar, and later rock vocalists such as Jeff Buckley and Jack White who imitated his performing style extensively. Freddie Mercury of Queen, and Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses were also influenced by Plant. Best known as the vocalist and lyricist of the rock band Led Zeppelin, he has also had a successful solo career. Encyclopædia Britannica notes "Exaggerating the vocal style and expressive palette of blues singers such as Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, [Robert] Plant created the sound that has defined much hard rock and heavy metal singing: a high range, an abundance of distortion, loud volume, and emotional excess".

Plant has received many awards and high ranking in several "greatest of" music magazine reader polls. For instance, he received the Knebworth Silver Clef Award in 1990, was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours for his "services to popular music", and in 2011, a Rolling Stone readers' pick placed Plant in first place of the magazine's "Best Lead Singers of All Time".

The inspirations for Plant's often mystical, philosophical and spiritual lyrics are, in my opinion, too many to list, but here is a small taste: The passion for diverse musical experiences drove Plant to explore Africa, specifically Marrakesh in Morocco where he encountered Egyptian singer, songwriter, and actress Umm Kulthum, who is widely regarded as the greatest female singer in Arab music history. That musical inspiration eventually culminated in the classic track "Kashmir" (which is not in North Africa, but rather in India). Below: 8mm film clip of Led Zeppelin performing "Kashmir" in Los Angeles 1975 - courtesy of via their Channel:

Both Robert Plant and Jimmy Page revisited these influences during their reunion album No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded in 1994. In his solo career, Plant again tapped from these influences many times, most notably in the 2002 album, Dreamland.

Arguably one of Plant's most significant achievements with Led Zeppelin was his contribution to the track "Stairway to Heaven", an epic rock ballad featured on Led Zeppelin IV that drew influence from folk, blues, Celtic traditional music and hard rock among other genres. Most of the lyrics of the song were written spontaneously by Plant in 1970 at Headley Grange. While never released as a single, the song has topped charts as the greatest song of all time on various polls around the world.

After the break-up of Led Zeppelin in 1980 (following the death of John Bonham), Plant pursued a successful solo career, in the middle of which he joined a short-lived all-star group with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck called The Honeydrippers. Plant performed with living members of Led Zeppelin both on 13 July 1985 for Live Aid (with Phil Collins and Tony Thompson on drums) and on 15 May 1988 for Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary. He then teamed up again with Jimmy Page for a time to tour and release two albums (1994-1998). In 1995, Led Zeppelin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Plant performed at the induction show with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Jason Bonham, Neil Young, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, performing spirited versions of "Bring It On Home", "Honeybee", and "When the Levee Breaks." 

After years of reunion rumors, Led Zeppelin performed a full two-hour set on 10 December 2007 at the Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert, with Jason again filling in on drums. Starting in mid-1999, Plant performed until the end of 2000 at several small venues with his folk-rock band, named Priory of Brion. In 2002, with his then newly-formed band Strange Sensation, Plant released a widely acclaimed collection of mostly blues and folk remakes, Dreamland. Contrasting with this lush collection of often relatively obscure remakes, the second album with Strange Sensation, Mighty ReArranger (2005), contains new, original songs. Both have received some of the most favourable reviews of Plant's solo career and four Grammy nominations, two in 2003 and two in 2006. From 2007-2008, Plant recorded and performed with bluegrass star Alison Krauss. A duet album, Raising Sand, was released on 23 October 2007 on Rounder Records. Raising Sand also won Album of the Year at the 51st Grammy Awards.

In July 2010, Robert Plant embarked on a twelve-date (summer) tour in the United States with a new group called Band of Joy (reprising the name of his very first band in the 1960s). The group includes singer Patty Griffin, singer-guitarist Buddy Miller, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Darrell Scott, bassist-vocalist Byron House, and drummer-percussionist-vocalist Marco Giovino. A new studio album called Band of Joy was released on 13 September 2010 on the Rounder Records label. The band played their final scheduled show together at the Big Chill Festival at Eastnor Castle Deer Park in Herefordshire on 7 August 2011. The show ended with Plant bidding his bandmates "a fond farewell".

The Official Video for "Angel Dance" from "Band Of Joy" Album:

With a career spanning more than 40 years, Robert Plant is regarded as one of the most significant singers in the history of rock music, and also happens to be..

A Bit Of Groovy!
Source - Wikipedia
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Woodstock, August 15-18, 1969

Today marks the 42nd Anniversary of Woodstock. Billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music", it was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in the Catskills near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, New York. It is widely regarded as one of the most pivotal moments in popular music history.

Originally, Woodstock was designed as a profit-making venture, aptly titled "Woodstock Ventures". It famously became a "free concert" only after it became obvious that the event was drawing hundreds of thousands more people than the organizers had prepared for. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors in front of an estimated 500,000 concert-goers.

List of Performing Artists:

Friday, August 15

Richie Havens
Swami Satchidananda – gave the invocation for the festival
Bert Sommer
Ravi Shankar
Tim Hardin
Arlo Guthrie
Joan Baez

Saturday, August 16

Country Joe McDonald
John Sebastian
Keef Hartley Band
The Incredible String Band
Canned Heat
Grateful Dead
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Janis Joplin with The Kozmic Blues Band
Sly & the Family Stone
The Who
Jefferson Airplane

Sunday, August 17 to Monday, August 18

The Grease Band
Joe Cocker
Country Joe and the Fish
Ten Years After
The Band
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Johnny Winter featuring his brother, Edgar Winter
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Jimi Hendrix

Although the festival was remarkably peaceful given the number of people and the conditions involved, there were two recorded fatalities: one from what was believed to be a heroin overdose and another caused in an accident when a tractor ran over an attendee sleeping in a nearby hayfield. There also were two births recorded at the event (one in a car caught in traffic and another in a hospital after an airlift by helicopter) and four miscarriages. Yet, in tune with the idealistic hopes of the 1960s, Woodstock satisfied most attendees. There was a sense of social harmony, which, with the quality of music, and the overwhelming mass of people, many sporting bohemian dress, behavior, and attitudes helped to make it one of the enduring events of the century.

John Fogerty regarding Creedence Clearwater Revival's 3 a.m. start time at Woodstock: "We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn ... there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud. And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: a quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, 'Don't worry about it John. We're with you.' I played the rest of the show for that guy."

After the concert, Max Yasgur, who owned the site of the event, saw it as a victory of peace and love. He spoke of how nearly half a million people filled with possibilities of disaster, riot, looting, and catastrophe spent the three days with music and peace on their minds. He states that "if we join them, we can turn those adversities that are the problems of America today into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future..." Source - Wikipedia

For more information, visit

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music, and A Bit Of Groovy.